The human body is an endless mystery and capable of amazing things. As demonstrated during the Olympics – and soon in the Paralympics – the strength, endurance and flexibility of athletes shows just how far we can push ourselves with elite training, determination and discipline.

Even us mere mortals, the non-professional athletes of the world, are constantly fighting infection and attack on so many fronts. And yet, our organs keep us going whether we’re in extreme conditions, asleep or sat at a desk unaware of how much we’re straining our eyes.

Next month at the British Science Festival at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) campus and Chelmsford city centre, we’re turning our focus to what happens when the body goes wrong and what we can do to remedy it, as well as the growing awareness of mental health effects resulting from illness. As NHS apps have been developed and clinical trials on various vaccines have been conducted, work hasn’t stopped in areas such as stroke therapy, skin conditions, social care.

Below is just a small selection of the fantastic research that will be shared:

Preventing preventable blindness Thursday 9 September, 3.00pm - 3.45pm

Across the world, millions of people are living with preventable blindness.

Collaborating with a global network of 102 leading eyesight researchers including the World Health Organization (WHO), ARU's research is contributing to the most comprehensive dataset on global blindness.

Less economically developed countries have more issues with vision loss. This is largely a result of reduced access to healthcare and less education about how certain diseases, like diabetes, affect eye health.

With 80% of the world's blindness either avoidable or treatable. Disability activist and author of 'Kika and Me', Amit Patel speaks with optometrists Shahina Pardhan and Rupert Bourne from ARU's Vision and Eye Research Institute to discuss the vital work that is and needs to happen, to ensure people get the information and treatment they need.

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Not just skin deep Friday 10 September, 5.30pm - 6.30pm.

Eczema and psoriasis are too often seen as minor inconveniences, sorted out with a few dollops of moisturiser and swiftly forgotten.

However, for many, these conditions can have severe and long-lasting impacts, not just on skin, but also on mental health. So why is there so little psychological support available for patients battling these chronic conditions?

Join biologist Hephzi Tagoe from GhScientific, alongside dermatology researcher Edel O'Toole (Royal London Hospital), as they explore the impact that dry skin conditions can have on body image and what this means in terms of mental wellbeing. They will touch on recent research exposing the minimal support for those who are struggling, and why these issues are rarely recognised.

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I, carer Tuesday 7 September, 4.00pm - 4.45pm

Would you want a robot to care for you in later life? With 110,000 vacancies in the social care sector, we may soon see a new major role for robotics within the ageing population.

Join Pamela Knight-Davidson (Positive Ageing Research Institute, ARU), Nic Palmarini (UK National Innovation Centre for Ageing, Newcastle University) and others to discuss the technological innovations taking place in the fields of artificial intelligence and robotics for older citizens, and their moral and ethical implications for society.

Providing everything from personal shopper services to companionship, robotics is playing an increasing role in caring for the elderly in the UK and around the world. Pamela, alongside a panel of researchers, local authority social care experts and those with lived experience of the specific needs of the older generation, will explore how the older generation can remain independent through the use of new technology.

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Instruments for stroke recovery Thursday 9 September, 2.00pm - 2.45pm

Music therapy can help stroke patients recover. Every year 100,000 people in the UK have strokes. Many are left with issues in their movement, and ability to process and communicate information.

Effective 'neurorehabilitation' - the process that aids recovery from brain disorders like strokes - is key to a patient being able to re-learn such skills.

Repetition is fundamental to neurorehabilitation, and research from ARU has shown that music therapy can play a vital role. Not only is music full of repetition, but it also makes people feel at ease - from the patients to medical staff and carers.

Music therapist and neurorehabilitation researcher, Alex Street (Anglia Ruskin University) sits down with Jodie Bloska (Anglia Ruskin University) and Tony Rawson (Music Street) to share their personal and lived experiences of the profound impact music therapy has had on their stroke recovery journey, and what this can mean for future patients.

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Schizophrenia: when drugs don't work Tuesday 7 September, 2.00pm - 2.45pm

Of the 200,000 people in the UK who are diagnosed with Schizophrenia, 30% do not improve when treated with antipsychotic drugs.

Psychologist Carolyn McNabb from the University of Reading is using powerful imaging technology to explore how disrupted wiring in the brain can shed light on this debilitating issue of treatment resistance.

Find out how this powerful insight into the structure and function of the brain may pave the way for new and effective treatments and improve the quality of life of those affected by this mental illness.

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Lockdown lowdown: how we lived Wednesday 8 September, 12.00pm - 12.45pm

From changes in how often we drank alcohol, had sex, or simply looked after ourselves - social distancing and self-isolation impacted our wellbeing. But was it all bad?

Epidemiologist Lee Smith, who oversees ARU's COVID-19 research group, shares his experiences and insights from coordinating a national survey tracking how we lived during this strange and turbulent era.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first took hold, we had no idea we'd be heading in and out of lockdowns for the foreseeable future.

These measures were necessary to stop the virus spreading and overwhelming the NHS. Regardless, there was concern that lack of physical contact, in-person socialisation and ability to exercise would seriously impact people's mental and physical health.

While measures had profound effects on society, some were surprisingly positive.

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There's all this and more, with sessions and experiences covering topics from maths and music, to food and fake news. To find out more about the British Science Festival 2021, visit the website.